June 1–On Opening Day, 1957, the Cincinnati Redlegs unveiled a brand new state-of-the-art scoreboard. According to “Redleg Journal” (by Greg Rhodes and John Snyder):
“A new 55-foot high, 65-foot wide scoreboard greeted fans on Opening Day. It replaced the original model, built in 1912 and remodeled in 1934. The new scoreboard, which remained until the ball park closed in 1970, was the first in baseball to display each hitter’s batting average. It was especially impressive at night when the glass panels were back-lit and blue neon lights outlined the hands of the huge clock. The entire scoreboard was in play, including the 40 feet that extended above the outfield wall. Many apparent home runs became doubles when balls crashed into the scoreboard.”
The scoreboard may have been new and fancy, but it couldn’t contain the home team Redlegs’ outburst on June 1, 1957 (the first season of the new scoreboard). On this date, the Redlegs scored 22 runs on 22 hits, including seven home runs, in a 22-2 pasting of the Chicago Cubs.
Back to “Redleg Journal”:
The brand new scoreboard proved inadequate in the wake of the offensive explosion. The board was unable to display runs and hits totals greater than 19. The win gave the Reds a 27-14 record and a 2 1/2 game lead in the National League pennant race.”
What a great problem to have. Imagine the laughter and fun at Crosley Field on this night.
1957 was an important season for the Redlegs. The team had won 91 games in 1956 and contended for the title after spending a decade in the second division of the league. The Redlegs had taken over first place on May 11, 1957, and held first for every day but two through June 12 before starting to fade. By July 11th they were fourth, and they finished the season in fourth place with an 80-74 record, 15 games off the pace.
But June 1 was a big Redleg day. The Redlegs scored in five different innings, with the big innings being the 5th and 6th when the Redlegs scored nine and seven, respectively. Frank Robinson had two home runs, and Wally Post, Gus Bell, Ed Bailey, Don Hoak, and even pitcher Hal Jeffcoat (a former outfielder) all contributed one. Hoak and Johnny Temple both had four hits, and Post, Bell, and Bailey all had three hits for the Redlegs. Jeffcoat’s record improved to 4-2 on the way to a 12-13 season. Joe Nuxhall earned a save, pitching two scoreless innings to protect the Reds 22-2 lead. (yes, that’s right). It was Nuxhall’s only save of the year.